October 3, 2016 by notjustpumpkinbread
We’ve scored first in our last 4 games, so taking 1 point from a possible 12 clearly isn’t a good thing. This time we made it to the 65th minute before capitulating. If you’re interested in the stats, those 4 games started with Norwich at home, where we conceded in the 52nd minute; then Sheffield Wednesday in the 68th minute; on to Fulham in the 72nd minute; and finally Bristol City.
There was a trend starting to develop. That light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a first clean sheet of the season has (unfortunately) only been one of an oncoming train. Before Saturday’s debacle, we seemed to be heading toward the finish line in terms of defensive nirvana. While the Fulham game was our worst performance of the season and the inevitable concession of a goal came as a shock to no-one, those other games were the victims of defensive errors or an individual error leading to goals.
I’m not going to start pointing fingers at players; there’s no point in doing that. It’s just a shame a lot of hard work is being undone in a split second and we then seem to lose our head and are unable to respond.
Yes, the tinkering doesn’t help either, but I think Philippe is closer to knowing his starting 11 than some would think. Let’s take this game as an example:
Two of the changes were Carayol and Dumitru. Those were as clear as day based on their performance against Fulham. So in came Lansbury – returning from suspension – and Licá for his first start.
Mills was in for Mancienne due to MM picking up an injury in the week, while Cohen replaced Vaughan. Now, here’s where some fans would take exception to the man of the match in the fulham game not getting a start on Saturday. But consider this; Vaughan will be 34 in February next year.
“Vaughan has scaled down the intensity of the work he does on the training ground through the week, which he hopes will help extend his career.“
Paul Taylor, Nottingham Post, 29th March 2016
Expecting David Vaughan to play twice a week at the level he’s clearly capable of when fit is unsustainable for a player of his age. Yes, it took until the 10th league game of the season for Vaughan to make only his second start, but we’re going to need to get used to seeing him play every other game, at best.
That Lam seems to be a natural replacement is encouraging, but his injuries have hampered his integration into the team. And when he does get an opportunity, it’s as a stop gap to cover for an injured centre half, rather than his preferred position of defensive midfield.
So, finally, up top we had Vellios in for Bendtner. Some were struggling to understand why he’d been dropped for Bendtner in the first place – for the Fulham game – so it was a welcome return for the Greek striker who seems to be hitting his straps. He proved his worth again with yet another goal and that’s 4 in 5 starts for the striker. Whether you’d need to start Bendtner in a few games just to keep him onside may be an issue, but let’s be honest, both would be starting behind a fit Britt. Two up top you say? We’ll have to wait and see, but I think that ship sailed a long time ago.
So, 5 changes and a reasonable explanation for all of them. I’m not condoning, just looking for possible reasons. And as for that fixed starting 11, I reckon it would currently be:
Lichaj, Mancienne, Perquis, Fox
Pereira, Lansbury, Kasami, Osborn
Going forward, we’ve got Pinillos to replace Fox; Mills as CB cover; Lam as natural cover for Vaughan; Cohen in the middle of midfield as well as a fit again Cash (hopefully back in December); and Bendtner for Vellios, with Britt as a starting striker when fit.
We’ve been hampered by injuries again, but knocks and niggles this time rather than long term affairs. It’s a shame Perquis picked up another and had to be replaced by Lam at half time, as he looks very solid.
And so it goes on. We waved goodbye to 15 players from last season’s squad – a further 4 are out on loan – while welcoming a further 12. That’s some turnaround of personnel. And that’s going to take time to integrate everybody into a new coach’s playing ethos. I find it interesting that PM has said recently that the players are tired – maybe there are fitness issues stemming back to previous regimes? Who knows. All I know is, sacking your manager after 11 games isn’t the fix. I’m sure Aston Villa will find that out soon enough, having just shown Di Matteo the door.
Let’s just hope this international break has come at the right time for the squad and the coach to carry on working hard and moving in the right direction.
COME ON YOU REDS!!!